Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Ballade of Suicide - a poem by G.K.Chesterton

A Ballade of Suicide - a poem by G.K.Chesterton

A Ballade of Suicide
G.K. Chesterton

The gallows in my garden, people say,
Is new and neat and adequately tall;
I tie the noose on in a knowing way
As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
But just as all the neighbours on the wall 
Are drawing a long breath to shout "Hurray!"
The strangest whim has seized me. . . After all
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

To-morrow is the time I get my pay
My uncle's sword is hanging in the hall
I see a little cloud all pink and grey
Perhaps the rector's mother will NOT call
I fancy that I heard from Mr. Gall
That mushrooms could be cooked another way
I never read the works of Juvenal
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

The world will have another washing-day;
The decadents decay; the pedants pall;
And H.G. Wells has found that children play,
And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall;
Rationalists are growing rational
And through thick woods one finds a stream astray,
So secret that the very sky seems small
I think I will not hang myself to-day.


Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal,
The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way;
Even to-day your royal head may fall
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

A Christmas Carol - a poem by G.K. Chesterton

A Christmas Carol - a poem by G.K. Chesterton

Twas the Night before Christmas Poem by Clement Moore
Twas the Night before Christmas Poem by Clement Moore
Christmas Carol 
by G.K.Chesterton 

The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's breast
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.) 

The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world's desire.)

The Christ-child stood on Mary's knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down 

'A Christmas Carol' poem 

The shepherds went their hasty way,
And found the lowly stable-shed
Where the Virgin-Mother lay:
And now they checked their eager tread,
For to the Babe, that at her bosom clung,
A Mother's song the Virgin-Mother sung.


They told her how a glorious light,
Streaming from a heavenly throng.
Around them shone, suspending night!
While sweeter than a mother's song,
Blest Angels heralded the Savior's birth,
Glory to God on high! and Peace on Earth.


She listened to the tale divine,
And closer still the Babe she pressed:
And while she cried, the Babe is mine!
The milk rushed faster to her breast:
Joy rose within her, like a summer's morn;
Peace, Peace on Earth! the Prince of Peace is born.


Thou Mother of the Prince of Peace,
Poor, simple, and of low estate!
That strife should vanish, battle cease,
O why should this thy soul elate? 
Sweet Music's loudest note, the Poet's story,
Didst thou ne'er love to hear of fame and glory?


And is not War a youthful king,
A stately Hero clad in mail?
Beneath his footsteps laurels spring;
Him Earth's majestic monarchs hail
Their friends, their playmate! and his bold bright eye
Compels the maiden's love-confessing sigh.


Tell this in some more courtly scene,
To maids and youths in robes of state!
I am a woman poor and mean,
And wherefore is my soul elate.
War is a ruffian, all with guilt defiled,
That from the aged father's tears his child!


A murderous fiend, by fiends adored,
He kills the sire and starves the son;
The husband kills, and from her board
Steals all his widow's toil had won;
Plunders God's world of beauty; rends away
All safety from the night, all comfort from the day.


Then wisely is my soul elate,
That strife should vanish, battle cease:
I'm poor and of low estate, 
The Mother of the Prince of Peace.
Joy rises in me, like a summer's morn:
Peace, Peace on Earth! The Prince of Peace is born!

Rosh Hashanah Hakhel

A Rosh Hashanah Message: Community over Individuality

By the Grace of G‑d
In the Days of Selichos, 5740
[September 1980] “Seventh Year, a Shabbos unto G‑d”
Brooklyn, N.Y.
To the Sons and Daughters of our
People Israel, Everywhere,
G‑d bless you all!
Heartfelt Shalom and Blessing:
In these days of intensified preparation for Rosh-Hashanah—
Rosh-Hashanah being not only the beginning of the new year, but also the “head” of the year that influences each and every day of the entire year, “from the beginning of the year to the end of the year”—
And bearing in mind the basic principle that “action is the important thing,” namely, the moral lesson that has to be derived and translated into action in the everyday life,
It is appropriate to elaborate on one of the points that has been mentioned only briefly in the previous letter, in connection with the new year being a year of Hakhel, recalling the comprehensive Mitzvah, in the time of the BeisHamikdosh, of assembling all the Jews, the men, women, and childreh, as one Kohol (congregation), for the purpose of stimulating them in the observance ofMitzvos, and strengthening their faith and Yiddishkeit, etc., as discussed in the said letter.

The significance of the term one Kohol, which characterizes this assemblage, is that in addition to having the quality of an assembly of a number of distinct and different individuals who are assembled together for a certain purpose, in order to achieve a certain goal with concerted efforts, which makes it possible to accomplish a great deal more than could be accomplished by all of them acting independently—
As we see from experience that a person can lift and carry a much larger load when another person helps him lift it.—
There comes into being an essentially new entity, a “Kohol,” which can accomplish things that could not be done by the individuals, as individuals—
As can be seen from the example of the Mishkon (Sanctuary): When the time came to make a Sanctuary for the Shechinah (Divine Presence), in accordance with G‑d’s directive, “Make Me a Mikdosh (holy place), and I will dwell among them,” it called for contributions of thirteen (fifteen) items, such as gold, silver, etc., donated by men, women, and, according to our Sages, also children; which were handed over to the “wise-hearted men,” who were to make the various parts of the Mishkan under the direction of Betzalel and Oholiov; withMoshe Rabbeinu over them all. And only through all of them together was it possible to make, construct and erect a Mishkon, a fitting abode (Mikdosh) for G‑d’s Presence, which caused the extension of G‑d’s dwelling also “in them—within the heart of each of them.”
In a similar way it is with the “Small Sanctuary” (Mikdosh me’at), the synagogue. When ten Jews come together to pray, a new entity—a tzibbur(“congregation”)—is created; and only then can the Divine precept, “I shall be hallowed in the midst of the children of Israel,” through the recitation ofkaddishborchukedushah, etc. be fulfilled, and—it effects a change in every one congregation in that one becomes a part of a “sacred congregation.”
So it is in connection with Hakhel: It had to be carried out “When all Israelcome . . . (then) read this Torah before all Israel . . . (in a manner of) hakhel—assemble the people, the men, and the women, and the children”:—which made them all into one Kohol, and they listened to the Torah “as . . . if they heard it from G‑d,” “as on the day when it was given at Sinai,” when “Israel encamped there facing the mountain—Like one person, with one heart.”

As mentioned in the previous letter, even though the Mitzvah of Hakhel, in its concrete form, is connected with the Beis Hamikdosh, nevertheless its spiritualcontent is relevant in all places and at all times. It is particularly emphasized, however, each year at this time, when on the Shabbos before Rosh-Hashanah the Torah reading is always from the Sedra “You are standing this day, all of you . . . your heads, . . . to the drawer of your water.”
On this occasion, too, all Jews stand together—from their highest (“heads”) to the lowest in rank (“water-carrier”)—and all are united with G‑d by an everlasting covenant; yet not only as individuals, but in a manner of “all of you”—when all the individuals become one. In this way a new dimension is added to each of the ten categories comprising the Jewish People (as enumerated in the verse)—each of them becoming a part of one entity, the Jewish People. And on “this day” (alluding to Rosh-Hashanah) all Jews standunited by one and the same thought—to “crown” the Almighty, and by one and the same inner prayer—that He accept the coronation and reveal Himself as “King of Israel” and (also as) “King of All the Earth.”

What has been said above pertains to Rosh-Hashanah of every year. This year there is the added emphasis of it being Rosh-Hashanah of a Year of Hakhel, in which the unification of all Jews as one Kohol is especially emphasized, as explained above. Moreover, it comes after the prelude of the year of Shemittah, “a Shabbos unto G‑d,” when, during the entire year, all Jews were involved in the experience of unity and oneness, in a tangible and impressive manner: Every owner of a field and vineyard (in the time of the Beis HaMikdashagriculture was the principal occupation—“every man under his vine and under his fig tree”) renounced his private land ownership, and surrendered it to the real Owner, Who declared, “the earth is Mine,” and then places all the fields and vineyards at the disposal of all alike. This is why the Shemittah year is the proper and fitting prelude to Hakhel, and both together set the foundation for all the things that have to be accomplished in the everyday life through all the years ahead.

To cite at least one concrete example in the spirit of what has been said above: When a few Jews live in a remote small town, they must not rest content in being observant themselves, as individuals, however adequate their Torah learning, and however excellent their performance of Mitzvos. They must pool their capacities for a concerted effort to create a Kohol, set up a Kohol-Yiddishkeit, with institutions for Torah education; a Torah-leader (Rabbi), Torahkosher food service (Shochet, butcher), and, of course, Torah-true family life (Mikveh), and so on.

May G‑d grant that inasmuch as we are coming from the Torah reading this past Shabbos-Selichos: “You are standing this day, all of you” and “Hakhel the people, the men, and the women, and the children”—everyone should take along with him (her) the abovementioned points in order to implement them in actual practice each and every day of the year,
And the Almighty, “Who hears the sound of teruah (Shofar) of His people Israel in mercy,” should bless all our people, and everyone in particular, to be able to fulfill the Mitzvos of Shemittah and Hakhel not merely in their spiritual content, but in actual concrete form and detail, with the true and complete Geulo through Mashiach Tzidkeinu, with the “return of a great Kohol hither,” in the Beis Hamikdosh that will rise on its site; and may all this be very soon, in our own days, indeed, and,
While realizing even now, in the last days of the Golus: “We are Your people and flock of Your pasture, we will thank You for ever; we will tell Your praise to generation and generation.”
With esteem and with redoubled
blessing for a
Kesivo Vachasimo Toivo for a
Good and Sweet Year, and for
Hatzlocho in all above,
Both spiritually and materially,
/Signed: Menachem Schneerson/


Letters from the Rebbe
Instilling Faith in Your Children
The Daily Sabbatical
The Convergence of Two Shabbats - Part 1
The Convergence of Two Shabbats - Part 2
The Letter Sent by the Rebbe, Yud-Alef Nissan, 5740 (1980)
Letter Sent by the Rebbe for Chai Elul, 5740 (1980)
A Rosh Hashanah Message: Community over Individuality


Shemittah and Pruzbul

hemittah Loan Amnesty: Pruzbul

Questions and answers about the cancellation of debts on the Sabbatical year, and what we do about it

I understand that every seven years is a Sabbatical year, during which Israeli farmers give their fields a break and all debts are canceled. How does the debt thing work? What happens if someone owes me money? Am I really obligated to let it slide? Also, I’ve heard that there is something called a pruzbulthat somehow circumvents the law. What’s up with that?
Good question. Let’s start at the beginning. We read in the book of Deuteronomy:
This is the law of the Shemittah: to release the hand of every creditor from what he lent his friend; he shall not exact from his friend or his brother, because the time of the release for the L‑rd has arrived.1
This tells us that part of the observance of Shemittah (the Hebrew term for the Sabbatical year) is the forgiving of all loans. Any debts that are unpaid at the conclusion of the last day of the Shemittah year are canceled. Even if a borrower wishes to repay his debt, the lender may not accept it unless he reminds the borrower that the debt has been canceled, and the borrower still insists on giving him the money “as a gift.” (Indeed, it is considered praiseworthy for a borrower to do this.)
At the same time, the Torah forbids us to refrain from lending money for fear of Shemittah canceling the loan, and commands us to lend happily, despite the possibility that we may not be paid back.
In the words of the Torah:
Beware lest there be in your heart an unfaithful thought, saying, “The seventh year, the year of release is approaching,” and you will begrudge your needy brother and not give him . . . You shall surely give him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him; for because of this the L‑rd, your G‑d, will bless you in all your work and in all your endeavors.2
So where does this leave the modern lender and borrower? How is someone supposed to lend money knowing that the debt will be wiped out in just a few years?
This problem has been around for over 2,000 years. Hillel saw that people were avoiding lending money as the Shemittah year nearedIn the first century BCE,Hillel the Elder saw that people were avoiding giving loans as the Shemittah year neared. This posed two problems: 1) The wealthy people were transgressing the Torah prohibition against withholding loans out of fear of Shemittah. 2) The poor people who desperately needed loans had no way to procure them. He came up with a novel solution.
Hillel noted that the Torah tells us that only private debts3 are canceled by Shemittah: “He shall not exact from his friend or his brother.” If, however, one owes the court (i.e., the community) money, Shemittah does not affect the loan. Based on this rule, he instituted the pruzbul: a mechanism by which debts are transferred to a beit din (religious court).4 By making a pruzbul, you make your private debts public—and therefore redeemable.5
Isn’t this a loophole devised to circumvent a divinely ordained law?
The Talmud6 explains that nowadays the Shemittah loan amnesty is no longer in effect according to biblical law.7 Thus, since the Shemittah that we observe today is a rabbinic injunction, Hillel was empowered to circumvent these laws due to pressing need.
When do I make a pruzbul?
Although loans are not canceled until the end of the Shemittah year, once the Shemittah year begins there are those who rule that a lender may not demand payment of a loan (although he may accept it without demurring if the borrower wishes to repay on his own). For this reason, many have the custom to make apruzbul before Rosh Hashanah immediately prior to the Shemittah year, to be able to collect payment throughout the Shemittah year. Once the pruzbul has been made, any additional loans will require an additional pruzbul.
Others simply make a pruzbul at the end of the seventh year, just before the loans are suspended. To cover all grounds, there are many—including Chabad—who make the pruzbul twice, once before the Shemittah year, and once again just before it concludes.
This year, the last day before Rosh Hashanah will be Wednesday, September 24, 2014, and you should have made your (first) pruzbul by then. If you did not, you can do so until the following Rosh Hashanah.
What do I need to do?
Here is the text of the pruzbul:
I give over to you [the beit din] all debts which I have, so that I may collect them any time I wish.
There are two ways to deliver the text to the court:
a) The simplest and most convenient way is to attend morning prayer services in your local synagogue on the day before Rosh Hashanah.Make your pruzbulonline After the services, a hatarat nedarim ceremony is conducted, during which each member of the congregation stands before a beit din consisting of three (or, in certain communities, ten) of his peers, and recites a vow annulment statement. (Click here for more on hatarat nedarim.) Immediately after finishing the hatarat nedarim, everyone recites the aforementioned pruzbul text, thus orally transmitting all debts to this ad hoc court.
b) If this is not an option, you can transmit your debts to a beit din in writing.Click here to make a pruzbul online.
What if I don’t owe any money?
Because of the uniqueness of the mitzvah of pruzbul, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory, encouraged everyone to make the effort to make a pruzbul. In fact, he suggested that even someone who has no collectable debts, and thus has no need for a pruzbul, should symbolically lend a small sum of money to someone else in order to be able to observe the rare and easy rabbinical institution of pruzbul.
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Deuteronomy 15:2.
Deuteronomy 15:9–10.
It is important to note that not all financial obligations are considered loans and subject to being canceled by Shemittah. In case of doubt, consult a halachic authority. See also footnote 5.
For technical reasons, the borrower must have in his possession some real estate in order for the pruzbul to take effect. A rental property, dorm room, or even a place to sleep in your parents’ home is sufficient for this purpose. In the event that the borrower does not have any real estate in his possession, the lender can “lend” him a tiny parcel of land for the moment. A rabbi should be consulted on how this should be done in a halachically acceptable manner.
According to the strict letter of the law, nowadays one can collect a debt even without the benefit of a pruzbul. The reason? “Since it has become the custom to collect debts, even without a pruzbul, after Shemittah, and the borrower is aware of this custom, it is as if the lender explicitly stipulated that the loan will never be canceled, even by Shemittah. In such an instance, the borrower has taken upon himself an obligation [with the knowledge that] the Torah does not require him to pay, and this is a valid stipulation.” Nevertheless, “Any G‑d-fearing individual should be stringent and make a pruzbul” (Shulchan Aruch Harav, Laws of Loans 35).

One should also consider that pruzbul is a unique and rare mitzvah—and one that is very simple to observe!
Gittin 36a.
For approximately the past 2,500 years, the agricultural Shemittah rules have not been in effect according to biblical law (seeDeserting the Farms for further explanation), and the rabbis deduced from scriptural nuance that all the laws of Shemittah are inextricably tied to each other. Thus, biblically, Shemittah’s loan amnesty is in effect only when its agricultural rules are observed.